Covid-19 Useful Information

 

In this page you will find information relating to academics, accommodation, finances, as well as your health and wellbeing in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

If you have further questions or need support, you can get in touch with us vie phone or email - call 0131 650 9225 or email advice@eusa.ed.ac.uk. Check the opening times page for daily times.

 

 

 

The rules for assessment, award of qualifications, progression and special circumstances have been altered this year to allow for the unusual circumstances. Your school should communicate information specific to you and your course. 

 

University wide information can be found here and is updated regularly. 

 

If anything is unclear or you would like to discuss your situation we are here to help! Please send an email to academic.advice@eusa.ed.ac.uk

 

 

 

The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2 ) Act came into force on 27 May 2020. This allows students in university accommodation to give 7 days’ notice to end their tenancies. More info is available here.

 

Students will be allowed to return to collect their possessions from 29 May. To do so, you need to make an appointment to do this. You should not travel to Edinburgh without an appointment.

 

Rooms are expected to be cleared by 12 July. No overnight stays will be permitted so if you are travelling a long distance you might want to factor this into your plans.

 

The University have recognised that not all students will have been able to move their belongings out before leaving and they will support students to deal with this at a later date. 

 

The new legislation allows all student residents of private student accommodation to give 7 days’ notice to end their tenancies.

 

Students who have signed up to a tenancy with a future start date are able to end this agreement by giving 28 days’ notice in writing.

 

To do this you need to:

 

Write to your accommodation (email is fine) stating that ‘I hereby give 7 days’ notice to end my tenancy at xxxxx (insert address and room number) with effect from xxx date ( insert date of 8th day ). You need to mention a coronavirus related reason for ending the tenancy. This could be that you have to return home to care for a relative with the illness or that you have lost your summer job as a result of the shutdown and are no longer in a position to pay rent. If you have not already done so, you should make arrangements to return the keys by recorded delivery or courier and ensure that these have been received by the accommodation provider. You will be responsible for paying rent until the 8th day following the notice period. These measures are temporary and will only apply until October 2020 unless further extended by law.

 

Moving House – revised information from 29 June 2020

 

The government advice regarding travel and moving house has now changed with effect from 29 June. You will now be able to return to Edinburgh to collect your possessions. You need to contact your accommodation provider to make an appointment. Do not travel until your appointment is confirmed. There is likely to be a backlog so you might have to wait a few weeks for an appointment.

 

If you have already left the country and are not in a position to return to pick up your stuff, you should contact your accommodation provider to make arrangements for storage until you can safely return.

 

For further advice on safe travel please see Student Information Scotland.

 

 

From 29 June, the Scottish government has eased restrictions on moving house. You will now be able to return to Edinburgh or to move to a new property from this date.

 

Viewings in person are now allowed. Social distancing guidance still applies.

 

I have paid a holding deposit for a flat that I am due to move into in September but I’ve heard that we might not be returning to study in person in Semester 1. What can I do?

If you have paid a deposit for a flat to a letting agent but you or some of your prospective flatmates are unable to return to Edinburgh to occupy the tenancy, the first step is to have a discussion amongst yourselves about what you want to do. The joint tenancy should not be signed if all parties will not be able to occupy the property.

 

  • - You can contact your landlord or letting agent to discuss your options. Are they willing to delay the start date of the tenancy? 
  • - Ideally, you should minimise your financial commitment. You can ask the letting agent to consider returning part or all of the deposit until the situation becomes clearer. 
  • - You could ask the letting agent to cancel your reservation and return your deposit in full. 

 

I’m looking for accommodation for next year but am not in the UK. Is it ok to sign up for a property I am not able to view in person?

It is now possible (from 29 June) to attend flat viewings in person. Social distancing guidance will still apply. Or you can do this remotely by following our blog post here.

 

I’ve heard that, due to the current situation, landlords are able to access financial assistance from the government. Will this result in cheaper rents for students?

The government has announced financial support for landlords in the form of loans and mortgage holidays. However, we have not seen any evidence of these measures being passed on to tenants yet in the form of a more flexible approach to rent payments. We encourage students in financial hardship to make landlords and letting agents aware of their circumstances and to ask for reduced rental payments where necessary. They are under no obligation to grant these but it might be worth pointing out that you know they are available. Also, see question below on changes to the law on evictions.

 

I want to leave my tenancy. What can I do?

Any tenancy which started after 1 December 2017 will be a Scottish Private Residential Tenancy. 

 

This gives you the right to end the tenancy by giving your landlord or letting agent 28 days’ notice (in writing) of your intention for all tenants to end the tenancy. You are liable to pay rent until that 28 day period expires, whether you have moved out or not. It may be possible to negotiate a reduction of this notice period with your landlord but they do not have to agree to it. 

 

My tenancy agreement is for a fixed period and expires in June. Can I end this earlier?

This is not strictly legal (unless your tenancy started prior to 1 December 2017) and the same 28 day notice period applies, despite what is written on the agreement. Many students have agreements of this type. 

 

My tenancy started prior to 1 December 2017.

A different notice period will apply. Contact the Advice Place for further information. 

 

I have already left my flat and all my stuff is still in the room. What can I do?

Many students have found themselves in the position where they have left their rental property to return home but were unable to remove their belongings at the time. The best thing to do is to contact the landlord to discuss how best to deal with this. They might agree to end the tenancy early while keeping your property until you are unable to return and collect it. Or they could agree to continue the tenancy on a reduced rent until you are able to get back. 

 

I’m in a joint tenancy and have to stay because I am unable to return home. Am I responsible for all the rent and bills?

In normal circumstances, all joint tenants would be expected to agree to end a tenancy at the same time or to substitute a new tenant in with the agreement of the letting agent or landlord. However, this probably won’t be possible in many cases as some students have to stay while others have already gone. The first thing to do is to have a discussion with your flatmates about what you want to do. Then you should speak to the landlord to explain the situation. It would be unreasonable in the current situation to expect one tenant to be liable for all the rent or bills if they are the only person left behind. The landlord may agree to a rent reduction or rent holiday for the remaining tenant. 

 

Where possible, when leaving your tenancy the following advice should be followed: 

  • - Give 28 days’ notice in writing if you can, providing your signatures and specifying the date you want the tenancy to end. 
  • - Clear your room and leave it in a clean and tidy condition – the same applies to communal areas. 
  • - Take meter readings and agree on how the bills will be settled with flatmates. 
  • - Ensure that the keys are returned to the landlord. This can be done by post – use recorded delivery or signed for services. The landlord might be happy for you to post the keys through the door. You can take a video of yourself doing this as proof. 
  • - Take photos of the condition you have left the flat in. This is useful as evidence in deposit disputes particularly if you have comparison photos from the start of your tenancy. 

 

I’ve heard the Scottish Government has changed the law on evictions. Is this true?

Yes, this is correct. The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill has extended protection from eviction from three to six months. This means that nobody will be evicted from their home during this time. The government recommends that tenants explain their circumstances to their landlords and encourages ‘all landlords to be as flexible as possible during this time...if necessary by speaking to their lenders about mortgage breaks’. It doesn’t mean you should not pay any rent at all. Talk to your landlord. If you are unsure, speak to one of our advisers. 

 

This Bill has also increased the notice period landlords must give to tenants before an eviction. A minimum of six months’ notice must now be provided before landlords can evict tenants, depending on the eviction ground used. Some grounds of eviction, such as anti-social behaviour, will only require three months’ notice. 

 

I can’t afford to pay the rent as I'm no longer able to work.

Speak to the landlord or letting agent as a matter of priority. You may be able to negotiate a rent reduction or ‘holiday’ until you are able to make payments again. Speak to one of our advisers if you are unsure.

 

In addition to the above updates, the Advice Place have also published three blog posts with information about housing in light of COVID-19 covering moving out, repairs, paying rent and evictiononline flat viewings, as well as accommodation for 2020-2021.

 

You can also download the presentation slides and the audio recording of the 'Housing and Accommodation Info Session and Q&A', which was hosted online by the Advice Place on Tuesday 12 May. Access the SharePoint files here and here.

 

 

Click on the headings below for more information on each topic.

 

The University has made some changes to the way that hardship funds are being assessed and processed during the current crisis to make it quicker and easier for students to get access to these funds. 

 

Any matriculated student experiencing financial difficulties because of Covid-19 or during this time should apply on the form available here.

 

The financial support can be used to cover any exceptional costs students may have incurred in relation to accommodation, subsistence, and travel. 

 

The financial support is available to matriculated Undergraduate, Postgraduate Taught and Research students across fee statuses. 

 

Graduating students can also apply up until 31st July. All forms should be submitted to studentfunding@ed.ac.uk

 

If you would like any broader advice about your financial situation or if you don’t have any money for daily living expenses right now, please contact the Advice Place at advice@eusa.ed.ac.uk or call 0131 650 9225. 

 

If you were employed on 19 March 2020, even on a zero hours contract, and your employer is no longer able to offer you any work then you can discuss with your employer if they are applying to support their employees under the furloughed worker scheme. 

 

If you’ve been employed (or engaged by an employment business in the case of agency workers) for a full year, employers will claim for the higher of either: 

 

  • - the amount you earned in the same month last year 
  • - an average of your monthly earnings from the last year 

 

If you’ve been employed for less than a year, employers will claim for an average of your monthly earnings since you started work. The same arrangements apply if your monthly pay varies such as if you are on a zero-hour contract. 

 

If you started work in February 2020, your employer will pro-rata your earnings from that month. 

 

If your employer made you redundant before 19 March 2020, your employer may still be able to apply to this scheme if they re-employ you. 

 

The Scottish Government has provided Local Authorities with additional funds to provide grants to those on low incomes and facing financial hardship through a change of circumstances, such as redundancy. For those living in the city of Edinburgh more information can be found here

 

If you earn an average £120 a week from your employment you may be able to claim statutory sick pay of £94 per week.

 

Those on zero hours contracts may still be able to claim this if they have worked regularly for an employer and would be expected to return to work regularly for an employer once their period of illness or self-isolation is over.

 

 

For non-covid related illness if you are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay then this is paid after 4 days from the first day you were absent from work.  

 

 

If you or your partner are self-employed and have submitted a self-assessment tax return for the 2018-2019 tax year you may be able to claim up to 80% of your income from self-employment. If you are both employed and self-employed you may be able to receive support from the furloughed worker scheme on top of this. The rules surrounding this are complex, please do contact us if you would like further information. 

 

 

**Those students enrolled on a part-time course of study (not just temporarily part-time) may apply for benefits as if they are not a student. 

 

In order to be eligible to claim any form of income replacement benefits as a full-time student you need to fall into one of the following categories 

 

  • - You are responsible for a child. 
  • - You are the partner of a non-student (your partner needs to make the claim for benefits) 
  • - Be in receipt of Personal Independence Payment/Disability Living Allowance and have been assessed as having limited capability for work (contact the Advice Place if you are unsure how to obtain this) 
  • - You are waiting to return to your course after recovering from an illness for which you took an interruption of studies. 

 

In addition you must be habitually resident in the UK and also have a right to reside. If you are unsure, please do contact us for advice.

 

If you fall into this category you should be able to make a claim for Universal Credit and / or new style employment and support allowance if you are unable to work through illness. Any household income you have will be taken into account when calculating what you are able to receive. 

 

If you have worked regularly in the past 2 years then you may be able to claim:

 

Contribution based job seekers allowance if you have been made unemployed

Contribution based employment and support allowance if you are unable work through illness. 

 

Eligibility for these benefits does not take into account your student status, or any other household income you may be receiving. 

 

If you are already in receipt of benefits such as tax credits it is important to check before you make any changes that could trigger a move over the Universal Credit. This is because under the current system student income is not taken into account for benefits such as tax credits, but is deducted almost entirely from a universal credit claim.

 

Changes that could trigger a move to Universal Credit can be found here

 

There may be other sources of financial support to assist you over the summer break. Please contact us for further advice. 

 

Non-UK students with a right to receive public funds and who have met an earnings threshold over the past two year may be able to claim New Style Jobseekers Allowance if they have become unemployed from their course end date. . 

 

You will be able to claim statutory sick pay for a Covid-19 related absence from day 1. You will be able to self-certify your absence from day 7 by completing an online form

 

Universal Credit 

The amount of Universal Credit you get is increasing from 06 April 2020 by at least £1,000 per year. More self-employed people will be able to claim Universal Credit. 

 

Tax Credits 

The government has announced that the basic element of WTC will increase by £1,045 on top of the planned rise from 6 April 2020. The basic element will be £3,040 for 2020/21 (a daily rate of £8.33). 

 

HMRC has told claimants not to update working hours if working less due to the coronavirus. It is treating this as a temporary exceptional change and has said WTC will not go down because you are working less. 

 

If your income in 2019/20 has reduced (compared to what you expected, or compared to your 2018/19 income), you may have been underpaid tax credits for the current tax year. As the tax year is coming to an end on 5 April, any underpayment should be paid to you when your entitlement is finalised during the annual review, by 31 July 2020. 

 

If your income in 2020/21 is likely to be reduced (compared to your 2019/20 income), your payments in the new tax year, starting on 6 April, may be increased, based on an estimate of your 2020/21 income. 

 

For these reasons, you should provide an estimate of your actual income in 2019/20 and your expected income in 2020/21 as soon as you can. If things change, it is vital to keep your current year estimate up to date. 

 

Links to further sources of support

Advice Place extra funding information

turn2us.org.uk

 

Full time students who are in their final year of study, and whose income is reduced by not being able to work, or being paid a reduced rate of pay should be able to claim Universal Credit as soon as they are within 1 month of their course end date. 

 

For most undergraduate students this will be 23 April 2020. 

 

Those who have been in work and have enough national insurance credits may able to claim contribution based jobseekers allowance or if you are not able to work due to ill-health new style employment and support allowance. 

 

For those in receipt of legacy benefits such a tax credits, housing benefit and income support then changing to universal credit can drastically affect the amount you receive in benefits. Always get independent advice before switching over to Universal Credit. 

 

Part-time students should be able to claim benefits at any time during their studies. 

 

The Advice Place is open to answer any questions you have about what you may be entitled to during this difficult period.

 

SAAS

There is no detrimental change because of the Covid-19 to current funding from SAAS.

 

Students not currently in receipt of SAAS needed to apply by 30 March 2020 to receive funding for the 2019/2020 academic year. However, SAAS will look at individual circumstances when deciding if they can award/increase funding this academic year.

 

The main changes to this year’s funding that have been announced are:

  • - Eligible Care experienced students can claim their accommodation grant early, from the start of April 2020.
  • - They have suspended recovery of any new overpayments for 3 months (where you are overpaid due to withdrawal, interruption or if parental income on your assessment is higher than stated on the initial application). Student who are already making det repayments can speak to SAAS if they are struggling to meet them.
  • - They are looking at the whether there will be an extension to funding for students whose academic year will be extended due to a change in course timetable, nothing has been confirmed as yet.

 

If you are funded by SAAS and have questions about how Coronavirus affects your funding, Student Awards Agency Scotland are updating these FAQs daily.

 

SAAS Funding for 2020/2021

You should apply for funding via your SAAS portal as normal. If you don’t know what you will be studying next year, apply as if you were progressing on your current qualification - this can be amended later. You will need to apply by 01 June 2020 to expect payment in time for the new academic year, if you haven’t applied by this date, apply as soon as you can.

 

If the amount of loan or bursary you receive is means tested on your parental/sponsor/partner income and their income is expected to drop in the tax year 2020/2021 compared to tax year 2018/2019 then you may be able to ask for your SAAS payments to be re-assessed on the income for this tax year. You will need to submit an enquiry via your SAAS portal or call them to ask for a 2020/2021 income assessment form.

 

If you are declaring your own income, such as employment or universal credit and are unsure how to complete the form please feel free to contact SAAS or an adviser at the Advice Place for help.

 

If you are returning to repeat credits because of an interruption or assessment results, you may still be considered be able for full time funding. You can find more on our website, but please do contact us if you would like information specific to your situation.

 

Medical, Nursing and Midwifery Students funded by SAAS

Medical and Nursing and midwifery student support payments will not be affected if they undertake a clinical placement employment.

 

The Scottish Government has issued specific advice to Nursing and Midwifery students in Scotland who have volunteered to work in clinical practice, including renumeration here.

 

Student Finance for undergraduate students

Student finance haven’t issued any changes to their funding processes as a result of Covid-19 but you can find Covid-19 updates and their contact details here.

 

Funding for 2020/2021

Even if you aren’t sure what you will be studying in 2020/2021 you should still submit your funding application via your Student Finance Portal as if you were progressing on your current qualification. If you are applying for student finance for the first time you need to apply by 22 May 2020 to ensure you are paid on time for the start of your course, or by 07 June 2020 if you have received Student Finance last year. If you have missed this date you can still apply, but your funding may not be ready in time for the start of your course.

 

You won’t need to post evidence at this stage, they’ll be able to process without it and ask for it to be submitted later.

 

If the amount of maintenance loan or grant you receive is means tested on your parental/sponsor income and their income is expected to drop by more than 15% in the tax year 2020/2021 compared to tax year 2018/2019 then you may be able to ask for your student finance to be re-assessed on the income for this tax year. You will need to telephone Student Finance to discuss this.

If you are returning to repeat credits because of an interruption or assessment results, you may still be considered be able for full time funding. You can find more on our website,but please do contact us if you would like information specific to your situation.

 

Postgraduate Taught Students

There are no changes to Postgraduate funding from UK funding bodies that we are aware of, and you find general information on Postgraduate Funding on our website.

 

If you are struggling due to a change in your funding or having to extend your studies please do contact us for individual advice.

 

Postgraduate Doctoral Funding

There is little UK Government Funding for Doctoral students, of those who receive funding most will come from a Research Council.

 

Research councils are looking at how they may support students because of Covid-19 and we’ll update this page with more information as it is announced. For those in receipt of funding from a research council, it is expected they will look at your circumstances individually to see if funding can be extended. An e-mail was sent to students on 31 March 2020 outlining this, which you can view here.

 

If you are in financial difficulty please do contact us for advice.

 

 

 

A lot of non-urgent and non-essential services are being reduced currently to allow the National Health Service to concentrate on treating patients with Covid-19. 

 

Most GP surgeries are no longer accepting walk-ins and are asking anyone to call ahead first to be assessed on the phone. 

 

If you think that you have symptoms of Covid-19 follow the guidance here.

 

C:card are still working to keep you safe. You can order condoms via post here.

 

If you are worried because you have sexual health symptoms, you can book a telephone assessment here.

 

If you need to talk to someone about getting an abortion you can still self-refer to the abortion clinic 0131 536 2454 between 9am-3pm Monday to Friday.

 

Latest updates on sexual health clinics and services, as well as info about timescales for coil replacement etc can be found here

 

Waverly Care have launched an online chat, it’s live 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday, however any messages sent outwith those times will be answered when the service is live. 

 

This is a strange and difficult time for lots of us and it is likely that this will have an impact on your wellbeing or your mental health. 

 

We know that some NHS services have been reduced due to the current crisis and a lot of services that would normally be available are closed or struggling to meet demand. 

  • - The University Counselling service is still open and able to do telephone assessments. You can self-refer as normal via this form. However their capacity or counselling is much reduced at the moment. 
  • - The NHS Mental Health Assessment Service (MHAS) are not accepting walk in patients and asking that people call 0131 286 8137 – (that's a different number to usual). 
  • - The Edinburgh Crisis centre are still operating their helpline but not the text service. 

 

With so many support services going remote due to the pandemic, it may be tricky to know who are still operating. If you feel you want to speak to someone or know someone that may need some support – here is a list of agencies, that are operating at present (times may be subject to change)

  • -  Chaplaincy – don’t forget that the University’s own chaplaincy is able to offer its Listening Service remotely throughout the COVID19 closure period. If you would like an appointment, please email: Listening.Service@ed.ac.uk – they are also offering weekly Mindfulness Virtual Drop-ins.
  • - The Samaritans - are there to talk when you need them. You can call them any time on 116 123 or send an email to jo@samaritans.org
  • - The Anxiety UK Infoline is there if you need information or advice on dealing with anxiety. Call them on 03444 75 774, text on 07537 416 905 or use their live chat service.
  • - Breathing Space provide a telephone support line for people in Scotland, it is available between 6pm and 2am on weekdays and 24 hours at weekends - call 0800 83 85 87. 
  • - CALM provides support online and via their phoneline specifically for men. Their phone line is available between 5pm and midnight every day on 0800 58 58 58. 
  • - Papyrus provides a confidential support and advice service for people aged under 35 who are experiencing suicidal thoughts, or for anyone concerned about a suicidal young person. Their advisers are available from 9am – 10pm weekdays, 2pm – 10pm weekends, 2pm – 10pm bank holidays. Call 0800 068 4141, text 07860039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org
  • - LGBT Helpline Scotland are there to provide information and emotional support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families, friends and supporters across Scotland. Call 0300 123 2523 any Tuesday and Wednesday between 12-9pm or see website for email and LiveChat service. 
  • - Beat offers support to anyone struggling with an eating disorder – call their helpline on 0808 801 0677 or their student line on 0808 801 0811. Their website is full of great resources. 

 

We recognise that this is a difficult time for anyone who is having to isolate with an abusive partner or family member. 

 

If you are experiencing abuse, help is available during this time. You can contact the Advice Place or you can go straight to a specialist service:

 


Page last updated:
27/05/2020